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ND Women’s Tennis: Frilling takes tournament

Megan Finneran | Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The ITA Midwest Regional match in Ann Arbor, Mich., brought some initial struggles for the Irish, but junior Kristy Frilling fought through all the obstacles to win the singles title, advancing farther than any other Irish female tennis player since 2006.

Coming out with anything less than a victory wasn’t an option for Frilling.

“I definitely came into this tournament wanting to win, and I’m happy with the result,” she said.

Frilling, the No. 1 seed, concluded the week’s events Tuesday, when she beat the No. 2 seed, Michigan senior Denise Muresan. Frilling started with an early lead, taking the first set 6-2. She began the second set leading 5-2, but Muresan came back to take a 6-5 lead. Frilling fought back, though, to tie set at 6-6.

“It was tough because I was up in the second [set] and let her come back and almost win the set. I had to really dig and play aggressively because I knew if we went to a third set it would’ve been a long, grueling match,” Frilling said.

Her perseverance paid off as Frilling took the tiebreaker 7-2, winning not only the match but also the title. The final match was the only one that went to a tiebreaker of the five she played throughout the tournament.

“I think I got some good matches at All-Americans, and I have been really focusing in practice on taking more shots, being more consistent and just being mentally prepared for match play,” Frilling said of her preparations leading up to this tournament.

The doubles pair of Frilling and junior Shannon Mathews fell 8-6 in the quarterfinals to Ohio State’s Kelsey Haviland and Gabby Steele after triumphing over Ohio State’s Paloma Escobedo and Cami Hubbs the previous day.

Irish senior Kristen Rafael and freshman partner Britney Sanders also fell in the quarterfinal round, losing 8-6 to Northwestern’s Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton. They had previously beaten Northwestern’s pair of Kate Turvy and Belinda Niu in the round of 16.

In the singles division, sophomore Chrissie McGaffigan, Mathews and Rafael were all knocked out in the quarterfinals. After three sets, McGaffigan fell to Michigan’s Mimi Nguyen, while Mathews lost to Northwestern’s Brittany Wowchuk and Rafael was knocked out by Muresan, Frilling’s final opponent.

While Frilling was the only Notre Dame player to advance past the quarterfinals, the team has big hopes for the future.

“I like it so much better when we are all together and playing together,” Frilling said. “It was so weird without them, and it just made me more excited for the spring season where we will all be working together towards the same goals — Big East and NCAA Championships.”

Frilling’s win secures her a spot in the singles competition at the National Individual Indoor Championships in Flushing, N.Y., which begins on Nov. 4.